Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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UPDATED: 1.4 million French march against gay ‘marriage’;police tear gas crowd, children

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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LifeSiteNews reporter Jeanne Smits directly witnessed the events that took place during this extraodinary event. She confirms the enormous numbers claimed by organizers and reports on many aspects either ignored or distorted by French and other media. This LifeSiteNews exclusive reports on what really happened during the demonstrations, including the totally uncalled for police tear gassing of some of her peaceful and prayerful friends and relatives.

Analysis

March 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - According to organizers, nearly one and a half million people joined the third demonstration in five months against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” by the French government in Paris, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, large numbers of demonstrators who were unable to join the main venue – which had filled up by 3 p.m. – or who headed straight to the largest and most prestigious Parisian thoroughfare, the Champs-Elysées, were sprayed with tear-gas and beaten as they neared the presidential palace. Victims included children as young as 6 years old, elderly gentlemen, women of all ages, middle-aged priests and monks, and even a baby aged 10 months.

One boy, aged 14, named Lancelot, needed respiratory assistance for half an hour; another youth, Léonard, 17, was gassed and subsequently seized by riot police who threw him down the stairs at the entrance of a nearby subway station. Christine Boutin, leader of the mainstream Parti chrétien démocrate (Christian democratic Party), was also among the victims: she passed out after having been sprayed with tear-gas and lay unconscious on the street for several minutes.

Videos also show a woman demonstrator who was apparently deliberately knocked over by a police van being attended to by volunteer first-aid workers of the Order of Malta. Another young man, Tristan, told LifeSiteNews.com that he was gassed with a group of friends after sitting down in the street at the request of the armed forces.

The French media played down the police violence: all major radio, tv and other news sources spoke of “attacks” by violent young demonstrators against the police and armed forces, while the minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, publicly congratulated law enforcement officers for their “professionalism and cool-headedness.” However, dozens of videos posted on the Internet as well as eye-witness reports received from personal acquaintances of this author certify the opposite: unarmed and pacific, the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators assaulted by the armed forces did no more than vociferate their disapproval of the draft law, if that: most of them were laughing and singing as they strolled down the “most beautiful avenue in the world” – as the French believe – and were suddenly attacked by the riot police.

Contrary to recent public demonstrations involving youths from the suburbs, no damage was caused and the young people and families involved were unarmed. No stones or Molotov cocktails were thrown, and there were virtually no attacks against the police who on several occasions let people through to the Champs-Elysées without offering much resistance.

Why did all these thousands of people – up to 40,000, according to the numbers quoted by the organizers of the “Manif pour tous’” (“Demonstration for all”) – decide to defy police orders not to march on the Champs-Elysées as had originally been planned? The ban had been made official for five days and had been confirmed by an emergency ruling on Wednesday afternoon. Hoqwcwe, the definitive itinerary and access points to the demonstration were only published by the “Manif pour tous” on the weekend. Frigide Barjot, the demonstration’s figurehead had previously announced that even if access to the Champs-Elysées were to be forbidden the March would go there all the same and plant tents to occupy the thoroughfare until some assurance would be given that the draft law would not be voted and enforced. She later backed down from this statement.

The symbolism of the Champs-Elysées is very important to the French. Military parades are held there on the 14th of July; it is where the Liberation parade took place on August 26th, 1944; soccer fans rallied there in their hundreds of thousands when France won the World Cup in 1998 and compact crowds gather every 31st December to see in the New Year. Political rallies were also held there, notably when hundreds of thousands of French demonstrated their support to general De Gaulle in the wake of the May-68 revolution.

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Even if the anti-gay “marriage” mobilization has been uniformly peaceful since the demonstrations began on November 17th, the powers that be are getting noticeably nervous about public opposition and the Champs-Elysées are way too close to the presidential palace (called the Elysée) for comfort. François Hollande, increasingly unpopular because of his handling of the economic crisis – latest opinion polls give him a meager 36% of popular approval – can certainly do without a major public hostile manifestation. Especially when his socialist predecessor François Mitterrand is known to have remarked, back in 1984: “When over one million people take to the streets, the government totters on its base.”

This may be the reason for police counts of demonstrators on Sunday afternoon. A few days ahead of the March, the Parisian police announced they were expecting some “100,000” participants, although the number of special trains and buses coming in from the French provinces was larger than two months ago. On January 13th the police had officially announced 340,000 participants as opposed to the million plus counted by the “Manif pour tous”.

This time round it had to be less. Official sources stopped their count at 300,000. They did so despite the fact that it had been given out beforehand that if the wide avenue behind the Arc de Triomphe where the demonstration was parked for five hours filled up – it can contain 1.2 million people – an additional avenue would be opened to accommodate the demonstrations. This took place at 3 p.m. An additional avenue was opened soon after, but despite this the crowds were so compact that many people literally spilled out onto the “place de l’Etoile” which separates the Champs from the Avenue de la Grande-Armée where the giant podium of the March was raised. This author witnessed part of the demonstration head-on from the balcony of a 6th floor apartment and can testify to the fact that the closely-knit, static crowd reached all the way to the end of the avenues between the Arc de Triomphe and the river Seine: some 6 kilometers.

This makes the “Manif pour tous” one of the most important demonstrations by far in the last thirty years. And it took many by surprise: most forecasters were expecting a lower turnout than two months ago, given the cost and bother of coming to Paris from the far away provinces, the more so because many large families came complete with all their children. Added to this is the fact that the demonstration is not claiming rights, benefits or public money. The French are voicing their opposition to same-sex “marriage” and “procreative rights” for homosexual couples as a matter of principle, in order to defend the community as a whole, the rights of children and the future of society itself.

These points were made by the many orators on the podium. Frigide Barjot has taken pains to keep politics and religion out of the “Manif pour tous”. However a number of representatives of the UMP, ex-president Sarkozy’s party, were allowed to speak. They are mostly in favor of legal civil unions as an alternative to same-sex “marriage” and over the years their party has promoted homosexual rights and criminalization of “homophobic hate-speech”. Left-wing politicians opposing gay “marriage” were also welcome, including a Trotskyite activist. Robert Lopez, the American professor who has publicly told of the problems he experienced as the child of a lesbian mother, told his story to enthusiastic applause. Gay men opposing same-sex “marriage” are among the organizers of the event. Adopted children witnessed to the importance of having a father and a mother to raise them, while adoptive parents told the crowd of the difficulties couples will experience when foreign countries refuse to let children in need of parents to travel to France if homosexuals are allowed to adopt here.

Jewish and protestant representatives were allowed to speak, as was a member of the Muslim brotherhood.

No Catholic bishop was invited to speak even though the vast majority of participants identify with Catholicism, sociologically at least, and it is an open secret that Sunday’s turnout was largely due to the Catholic hierarchy’s support.

Meanwhile, language that opponents to gay “marriage” and civil recognition of homosexual couples are finding increasingly difficult to stomach – calls from Frigide Barjot to applaud “the homosexuals” met with polite indifference – a certain ambiguity as regards the objectives of the march, and the sentiment that the advantage of previous demonstrations has not been pressed, all contributed to the nervousness of the crowds. Slogans like “Hollande resign” spontaneously arose while the organizers are still asking “Monsieur le Président” for a “dialogue” or a “referendum” about the draft law. Frigide Barjot’s main request was to obtain an interview with François Hollande today.

She also called the victims of Sunday’s police brutality “rioters” and “extremists,” implicitly justifying the use of teargas and violence against the crowds.

A spokesman for the government indicated early on Monday morning that the draft law will move ahead as planned. After a first reading at the National Assembly, it is scheduled to be discussed by the Senate in the beginning of April; second readings are expected and will take place if the Senate does not vote the text in identical terms.

Meanwhile, the socialist government is preparing other attacks on the family and the right to life. Embryo research is about to be voted into law: a whirlwind debate is expected at the National Assembly on Thursday. Child benefits are set to be cut for higher-income families. And as of Easter Sunday, abortion and contraception for under-age girls will be entirely funded by public money, making them 100% free.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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